Sometimes sport and art are uneasy bedfellows. Ever seen a great football musical? Nope, me neither. Yet the connection is electric when it comes to exercise and music.
Each and every gym is always full of sweaty bodies with earphones (often white ones) jangling from equally sweaty heads. Running shares this synergy. I don’t run with my iPod at all times. But, like thousands of others, I have spent many enjoyable miles with my pounding feet seeming to accompany the beat.
A new BBC series features Olympic heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis-Hill sharing her ‘Training Tunes’ with presenter Trevor Nelson. So music plays just as big a role in the life of the elite athletes as it does for us regular Joe’s and Joanne’s.
It’s obvious why. Have you ever found yourself running along with the music pumping in your ears and you are so caught up in your favourite tune that you have completely forgotten the last few miles? The pain, the breathlessness, the fatigue – none of them seem to register for a few blissfully ignorant minutes. Music can make difficult training sessions enjoyable.
Everyone has their own particular favourite running tunes. For Jess Ennis, the Spice Girls, Jay Z and Stormzy all make the hitlist. For me, Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run is hard to top. It’s fast, punchy, aggressive. It always motivates me to dig a little deeper and is just a stupendous tune.
Despite the popularity of music for runners, most races ban the use of earphones. It’s understandable, it can be unsafe to run in a big crowd where you are effectively can’t hear your fellow runners or the officials.
There have also been scientific studies that demonstrate that while music has a positive impact on training, it can be less effective in race situations. Who doesn’t need a lift for a lonely midweek run in the cold and dark?
But among the buzzing throng on the half marathon startline, the adrenaline doesn’t need any coaxing. Bruce Springsteen can’t help you much then. But the Boss has done his bit already.